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Macedonia: Broaden Anti-Discrimination Bill

Law Should Cover Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

NEW YORK - The Macedonian government's decision to ignore sexual orientation as
a protected category in its draft anti-discrimination law would leave
lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people without vital
protection, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter
to Macedonian authorities. Human Rights Watch called on the government
to support a comprehensive and inclusive anti-discrimination bill,
including protection on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender
The minister of labor and social policy, Xhelal Bajrami,
announced the draft law on January 29, 2010. He acknowledged that it
deliberately omitted mention of sexual orientation and gender identity,
but said that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people could
still ask for protection because the draft law refers to "other
grounds" of discrimination.

"Silence equals inequality," said Boris O. Dittrich, advocacy
director in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program of Human
Rights Watch. "Vague references to ‘other grounds' simply aren't good

The proposed law does not meet European or broader international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said.
In the letter, Human Rights Watch refers to international human
rights treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European
Union, all of which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation. Macedonia was one of the first countries in Europe to
ratify Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which
prohibits discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual
orientation, in "any right set forth by law." However, Macedonia has
not adjusted its domestic law to reflect its international commitments.

In October 2009 the European Commission stated in its progress
report on Macedonia that discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation persists, and that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
people have no legal protection against it.

Neighboring jurisdictions, including Albania and Serbia, have
amended their laws to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"Leaving people unmentioned in a key new law leaves them
unprotected in their daily lives," said Dittrich. "By including sexual
orientation and gender identity in this bill, the government will send
a message that equality truly is for everyone."


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